The study will examine how microorganisms break down biodegradable materials in the absence of oxygen.
SDSU graduate student Don Nguyen is growing algea to be used in the research.
Enhanced Anaerobic Digestion
SDSU research uses enhanced anaerobic digestion to treat waste and generate methane gas from the co-digestion of waste and algal biomass.
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San Diego State University will receive funding through Grand Challenges Explorations, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that enables researchers worldwide to test unorthodox ideas that address persistent health and development challenges.
Temesgen Garoma, environmental engineering professor at SDSU, will pursue an innovative global health research project, titled “Enhanced Anaerobic Digestion: A Sanitation and Energy Recovery Technology."
Garoma's project proposes a novel technology to solve sanitation issues. The solution uses anaerobic digestion to treat waste and generate a reliable supply of biogas from the co-digestion of waste and algal biomass. Anaerobic digestion is a series of processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable materials in the absence of oxygen.
“The Grand Challenges Explorations grant is an extremely competitive and prestigious award, and another example of the exemplary work our students, faculty and staff are doing to have a local, regional and global impact,” said David Hayhurst, dean of SDSU’s College of Engineering.
“This project will help develop innovative technology for treating waste sustainably by recovering resources.”
About Grand Challenges
Grand Challenges Explorations funds scientists and researchers worldwide to explore ideas that can break the mold in how we solve persistent global health and development challenges. Garoma’s project is one of 110 Grand Challenges Explorations grants announced in this round.
“We believe in the power of innovation—that a single bold idea can pioneer solutions to our greatest health and development challenges,” said Chris Wilson, director of global health discovery for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Grand Challenges Explorations seeks to identify and fund these new ideas wherever they come from, allowing scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs to pursue the kinds of creative ideas and novel approaches that could help to accelerate the end of polio, cure HIV infection or improve sanitation.”
Garoma's global health research project is one of many ways SDSU faculty are leading innovation and discovery, a key initiative of The Campaign for SDSU. With a unique focus on the teacher-scholar model, SDSU attracts researchers interested in solving the world’s most pressing problems, while showing students how to provide future solutions. Learn more about how SDSU leads innovation and technology, and how you can help.
Recovering lost resources
If successful, the technology Garoma is developing can be used to treat waste safely and sustainably, and recover otherwise lost resources — biogas as an energy source and biosolids as a fertilizer. The proposed idea will also reduce the release of untreated or partially treated waste into the environment and lessening contamination of drinking water supplies as a result.
Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to nearly 500 researchers from more than 40 countries. The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline and from any organization. The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short, two-page online applications and no preliminary data required.
Projects that receive funding show promise in tackling priority global health issues where solutions do not yet exist. This includes finding effective methods to eliminate or control infectious diseases such as polio and HIV, as well as discovering new sanitation technologies.
Garoma is an internationally recognized expert on chemical and advanced oxidation research. His research includes developing innovative treatment technologies for the removal of emerging pollutants from contaminated water, understanding the effects of pollutants on the environment, and developing alternative and sustainable sources of energy.
Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have an opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.
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